College basketball odds: The 7 best value bets to win the NCAA Tournament

The NCAA Tournament field is beginning to take some semblance of a shape as we near the downslope of the college basketball season. As things sit entering the home stretch, Purdue, Virginia and Villanova all have cleared their own paths to snagging No. 1 seeds in the postseason, while Duke, Michigan State, Xavier and Kansas are also very much still in the mix to be on the top line of a region in March.

But if you're a hardcore fan in the weeds of the sport (and if you're reading this, then the answer is yes), the real question you want to know if you're looking to wager a little cheddar on the sport is simple: which team (or teams) are the best value to bet on? There are 351 teams in college basketball, but perhaps only 20 or so realistic, well-known title contenders, along with a handful of teams everyone thinks about when pondering favorites.

You know, teams like Duke and Michigan State.

But which teams, based on SportsLine's latest analysis, net good value for gamblers? That's the heart of the issue we will address with seven teams -- the only seven -- that are statistically a good value when you break down the latest odds to win the title from Westgate Las Vegas Superbook and compare them to SportsLine projections of the latest projected bracket from CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm.

Before we get to the best values, here are the two worst: Duke and Michigan State.

The Blue Devils have 5-1 odds to win it all, but only won 8 percent of SportsLine simulations for a nehative value of -8.7 percent.

The Spartans were the most over-valued team carrying 4-1 odds to win the NCAA Tournament, but only winning 7.9 percent of SportsLine's projections for a negative value of -12.1 percent. 

Here are the seven teams with value, followed by the latest odds to win the national title from the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Value bets to win the NCAA Tournament
1

Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 8-1

Percentage of SportsLine NCAA Tournament-winning projections: 16.1%

Value: 5.0%

Purdue took two early L's against Tennessee and Western Kentucky in the Battle 4 Atlantis, but hasn't lost since. The Boilermakers (21-2) are on a 17-game winning streak dating back to late November, and only three teams -- Duke, Villanova and Michigan State -- have better odds of cutting down the nets in April according to Westgate.

Sportsline's projections give Purdue a 16.1 percent chance of winning it all in 2018, second best behind Villanova. So couple in Purdue's overall greatness with its slightly undervalued stock in Vegas, and it's why this team has the best overall betting value -- 5 percent -- in the NCAA.

2

    Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 4-1

    Percentage of SportsLine NCAA Tournament-winning projections: 22.5%

    Value: 2.5%

    Phil Booth's hand injury hasn't stopped Villanova on the hardwood yet, nor has it slowed the momentum it has in Vegas. At 4-1 odds, the Wildcats still have the best odds (4-1) of winning the trophy, and still have the second best value overall. A testament that 1.) Villanova is great and 2.) Somehow Villanova is still extremely undervalued.

    SportsLine gives the Wildcats a stunning 52.4 percent chance to make it to the Final Four and the best odds of any team, to win the NCAA championship. A title would give Nova its second in a three-year span.

3

Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 60-1

Percentage of SportsLine NCAA Tournament-winning projections: 2.7%

Value: 1.1%

With no Austin Wiley or Danjel Purifoy, Auburn has outperformed expectations. Heck, with them, it would still be incredible to see what the Tigers have done this season. As things stand, they are the sole leader in the SEC standings, a projected No. 2-seed in Jerry Palm's Bracketology, and boast 60-1 odds to win the whole thing. Their net value of 1.1 percent is third best among NCAA teams, which suggests that at 60-to-1, Auburn is a great value.

4

Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 15-1

Percentage of SportsLine NCAA Tournament-winning projections: 7.1%

Value: 0.9%

Kansas has once again emerged as the Big 12 regular-season title favorite after a bumpy start, and once again all signs point to the Jayhawks being a tough out in March. According to Westgate, only four teams have better odds to win the title. SportsLine gives KU a value of 0.9 percent, which suggests KU might be slightly undervalued in Vegas.

Interestingly, the Jayhawks have a 27.7 percent chance of making it to the Final Four -- only slightly better odds Villanova has of winning it all.

5

Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 40-1

Percentage of SportsLine NCAA Tournament-winning projections: 3.0%

Value: 0.6%

It's hard to find a team that has been more consistent than Xavier with less publicity.

Quietly, the Chris Mack-led Musketeers are 19-3, No. 6 in the latest AP poll, and nearly a lock to win multiple games in the Big Dance. According to SportsLine's projection model, Xavier has a 57.8 percent chance of making it to the Sweet 16 and a 7.7 percent chance of making a run to the title game. Its overall net value is fifth best, because despite 40-1 odds of winning the NCAAs, Xavier's value at SportsLine gives it a 3 percent chance of doing so. So the value is there if you're looking for a bit of a sleeper.

6

Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 500-1

Percentage of SportsLine NCAA Tournament-winning projections: 0.6%

Value: 0.4%

Clemson's odds have plummeted from 100-1 to 500-1 over the past two weeks, mostly due to the Tigers losing their second leading scorer Donte Grantham for the season.

For that reason, Clemson's a tough gamble. It is 1-1 without him in the lineup already, and moving forward it will be difficult to see them improve after losing a player of Grantham's quality. However, right now Clemson still is good value in Vegas; its 500-1 odds of winning it all is slightly lower than SportsLine's projection of 0.6 percent, giving them good value overall. But again, this is a tough sell.

7

Odds to win NCAA Tournament: 300-1

Percentage of SportsLine NCAA Tournament-winning projections: 0.6%

Value: 0.3%

Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey. Those two players, the stars of Marquette's vaunted backcourt, are why Marquette is an absolute steal at 300-1.

Will they win the NCAAs? Probably not. But are they lethal enough to make a deep postseason run? Absolutely. Between the two backcourt buddies, they shoot a scorching 40.1 percent from the 3-point line. And as we've seen time and again in the tourney, guards -- and specifically those who can get en fuego in March -- have the ability to win big ball games as underdogs. That equation doesn't even factor in sophomore Sam Hauser, who is shooting 49.6 percent from 3-point range this season, which ranks third in the NCAA.

Odds to win 2018 NCAA Tournament (via Westgate)

Team Open Current
Villanova 12 /1 4 /1
Michigan State 20 /1 4 /1
Duke 12 /1 5 /1
Virginia 30 /1 8 /1
Purdue 60 /1 8 /1
Kansas 12 /1 15 /1
Arizona 20 /1 18 /1
Kentucky 10 /1 20 /1
Wichita State 20 /1 20 /1
Gonzaga 12 /1 25 /1
Oklahoma 30 /1 25 /1
North Carolina 12 /1 30 /1
Florida 20 /1 30 /1
West Virginia 30 /1 30 /1
Cincinnati 80 /1 30 /1
Xavier 80 /1 40 /1
Saint Mary's 40 /1 60 /1
Auburn 300 /1 60 /1
Arizona State 300 /1 60 /1
Louisville 12 /1 80 /1
Michigan 20 /1 80 /1
Florida State 40 /1 80 /1
Seton Hall 60 /1 80 /1
Texas Tech 300 /1 80 /1
Ohio State 300 /1 80 /1
Tennessee 300 /1 80 /1
Butler 20 /1 100 /1
Miami 50 /1 100 /1
Creighton 80 /1 100 /1
Alabama 80 /1 100 /1
Texas A&M 100 /1 100 /1
TCU 300 /1 100 /1
USC 60 /1 200 /1
SMU 80 /1 200 /1
Nevada 100 /1 200 /1
Rhode Island 300 /1 200 /1
Texas 300 /1 200 /1
Missouri 300 /1 200 /1
Houston 500 /1 200 /1
NC State 500 /1 200 /1
UNLV 1000 /1 200 /1
Indiana 20 /1 300 /1
UCLA 40 /1 300 /1
Baylor 50 /1 300 /1
Virginia Tech 100 /1 300 /1
Syracuse 100 /1 300 /1
Marquette 100 /1 300 /1
Arkansas 100 /1 300 /1
Kansas State 300 /1 300 /1
Oregon 60 /1 500 /1
Notre Dame 80 /1 500 /1
Georgia 200 /1 500 /1
Clemson 300 /1 500 /1
Penn State 300 /1 500 /1
Nebraska 300 /1 500 /1
Middle Tennessee 500 /1 500 /1
Boise State 500 /1 500 /1
Vermont 1000 /1 500 /1
New Mexico State 1000 /1 500 /1
Wisconsin 60 /1 1000 /1
Iowa State 80 /1 1000 /1
Vanderbilt 80 /1 1000 /1
VCU 100 /1 1000 /1
Maryland 100 /1 1000 /1
Minnesota 100 /1 1000 /1
Northwestern 100 /1 1000 /1
South Carolina 100 /1 1000 /1
San Diego State 100 /1 1000 /1
Utah 100 /1 1000 /1
Providence 200 /1 1000 /1
Oklahoma State 300 /1 1000 /1
Dayton 300 /1 1000 /1
Wake Forest 300 /1 1000 /1
BYU 300 /1 1000 /1
Colorado 300 /1 1000 /1
Stanford 300 /1 1000 /1
UCF 500 /1 1000 /1
LSU 500 /1 1000 /1
St. Bonaventure 1000 /1 1000 /1
Old Dominion 1000 /1 1000 /1
Belmont 1000 /1 1000 /1
Buffalo 1000 /1 1000 /1
East Tennessee State 1000 /1 1000 /1
Western Kentucky 1000 /1 1000 /1
Florida Gulf Coast 2000 /1 1000 /1
Bucknell 2000 /1 1000 /1
Washington 2000 /1 1000 /1
Louisiana-Lafayette 2000 /1 1000 /1
Illinois 100 /1 2000 /1
Georgetown 200 /1 2000 /1
Mississippi State 300 /1 2000 /1
Davidson 500 /1 2000 /1
Georgia Tech 500 /1 2000 /1
Oregon State 500 /1 2000 /1
Charleston 1000 /1 2000 /1
Georgia State 1000 /1 2000 /1
Boston College 1000 /1 2000 /1
Pennsylvania 2000 /1 2000 /1
UConn 100 /1 5000 /1
Ole Miss 300 /1 5000 /1
Memphis 500 /1 5000 /1
La Salle 500 /1 5000 /1
Fresno State 500 /1 5000 /1
Wyoming 500 /1 5000 /1
Princeton 1000 /1 5000 /1
UNC Greensboro 5000 /1 5000 /1
South Dakota 5000 /1 5000 /1
South Dakota State 5000 /1 5000 /1
St. John's 300 /1 9999 /1
Iowa 300 /1 9999 /1
Illinois State 300 /1 9999 /1
California 300 /1 9999 /1
Richmond 500 /1 9999 /1
Pittsburgh 500 /1 9999 /1
Colorado State 500 /1 9999 /1
George Washington 1000 /1 9999 /1
George Mason 1000 /1 9999 /1
Saint Louis 1000 /1 9999 /1
UNC Wilmington 1000 /1 9999 /1
Harvard 1000 /1 9999 /1
Yale 1000 /1 9999 /1
Texas Arlington 1000 /1 9999 /1
Arkansas State 1000 /1 9999 /1
Oakland 1000 /1 9999 /1
Valparaiso 1000 /1 9999 /1
Northern Iowa 1000 /1 9999 /1
Akron 1000 /1 9999 /1
Ohio 1000 /1 9999 /1
New Mexico 1000 /1 9999 /1
Utah State 1000 /1 9999 /1
Washington State 1000 /1 9999 /1
Chattanooga 1000 /1 9999 /1
Grand Canyon 1000 /1 9999 /1
Louisiana Tech 2000 /1 9999 /1
NC Central 2000 /1 9999 /1
Monmouth 2000 /1 9999 /1
Troy 2000 /1 9999 /1
UTEP 5000 /1 9999 /1
Mount St. Mary's 5000 /1 9999 /1
San Francisco 5000 /1 9999 /1
Wright State 5000 /1 9999 /1
Jacksonville State 5000 /1 9999 /1
North Dakota State 5000 /1 9999 /1
Fort Wayne 5000 /1 9999 /1
IUPUI 5000 /1 9999 /1
Cal State Bakersfield 5000 /1 9999 /1
Texas State 5000 /1 9999 /1
Coastal Carolina 5000 /1 9999 /1
Albany 5000 /1 9999 /1
FIELD (All others) 300 /1 1000 /1
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